Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

At 8.5-months-old my son is taking time to settle because he keeps standing up

My son was never a really good sleeper; I went to him 3/4 times a night from early on. The problem now is that he very active and before I could always put him down and leave the room. Now though, because he can turn over, sit up and get up, he does just that. So I lie him down and he just turns over and cries as he can’t get comfy, then just stands at the end of the bed. This can go on for ages; up to 1/2 hour. I have even started to offer him a dummy which settles him quicker but not immediately.Then he may turn himself over 3/4 times in the night and need to be turned back.
He is also waking so much earlier: 5/5.30am every morning. The worst thing is that at the moment I don’t have the energy to sort it out. Having had a five year old who slept very well this is all news to me!
He naps at 9-9.30am and 12-2pm. He is put to bed at 7pm, waking at 10-10.30pm,1-1.30am, 4.30-4.45am then at 5.10am.

It would seem that your son has learnt to associate falling asleep with becoming dependant on you to help turn or lie down. He needs to learn how to do this on his own, both when he is put down in the evening and also throughout the night.
Now he is much more mobile and moving around a lot you can begin to let him find his own sleeping position. Babies often cry out at night as they roll around and hit the cot sides but often they are not really awake and will settle themselves again if left. Always leave a few minutes before going in to give him a chance to settle himself.
Place him in a suitable tog sleeping bag for the time of year and remove all his covers so there is no chance of him getting tangled in them.
Practise rolling from front to back and back to front in the daytime. Once he is able to do this confidently both ways leave him to do so in the night rather than going in straight away when you hear him. When he can roll both ways easily he may prefer to sleep on his tummy and because he is able to roll well you should allow him to do so.
When you put him down for his naps place him in the cot standing and teach him how to get down by holding his hands onto the cot spars and showing him how to lower himself down into his preferred sleeping position. Then, if he does not settle straight away he will be able to get down and do so when he is ready. As he is used to you helping him settle to sleep you may need to do some controlled crying with him once you know he is able to get down into a sleeping position alone. Check on him every 10-15 minutes the first night and then begin to lengthen the time by a five minutes or so the second night. Look in the Complete Sleep Guide for a full description of this method.
As your son is waking so early in the morning he is probably tired by 9am. He needs to begin to gradually move this sleep forward towards 9.30am and his lunchtime nap to 12.30/1pm. This will help him be less tired in the evening and more likely to go into his cot chatting or singing for a short while and drifting off, rather than falling asleep exhausted. The common result of this is early waking.
Gradually move his morning nap forward by five minutes every three or four days so he will begin to move his lunchtime nap forward and be going down to sleep later.